Don’t try nuclear energy experiments at home

Internationally recognized symbol.

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As WUWT readers know, I’m an advocate of do it yourself, amateur science, that what the surfacestations.org project was. This however, in our hypersensitive world, was a recipe for trouble:

Swedish Man Arrested For Building a Nuclear Reactor In His Kitchen

Swedish police have detained a 31-year-old man in Ängelholm in western Sweden who was discovered after he sought advice from authorities on the legality of building a nuclear reactor in a domestic kitchen.

The man began his experiment some six months ago and has reportedly been open about his plans to construct a nuclear reactor in his apartment in the small Swedish coastal town, maintaining a blog of his nuclear adventure.

The man, who explained that his interest in nuclear physics was awakened as a teenager, ordered some radioactive material from overseas and acquired more by taking apart a domestic fire alarm.

Despite the man’s frank and full disclosure of his experiment, his activities only came to the attention of the authorities a couple of weeks ago when he contacted the Swedish Radiation Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) to inquire if it was legal to construct a nuclear reactor at home.

It appears that there likely wasn’t any danger from this guy as he did his experiment, and even though he talks about meltdown, it seems he didn’t come anywhere close to having a critical mass for runaway fission. I mean, c’mon,  just how much Americium can you get out of a smoke detector?

The guy likely “ordered some radioactive material from overseas…” from this source:

Yep, good ol United Nuclear.

Full disclosure: I have some pitchblende and some radioactive glass marbles somewhere in my collection of stuff.  I also have some pure liquid mercury in my collection of thermometers. I guess that makes me a target for a visit from the science police.

Funny thing though, one of my very first blog posts back in 2006 was about Nuclear power in your basement and nobody got arrested from that one.

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70 Responses to Don’t try nuclear energy experiments at home

  1. Steve says:

    Put down the Fiesta dinnerware and step away slowly…

  2. Byz says:

    When I was at school, college and university we regularly use radioactive substances, now they are no longer allowed :o

    I also had a glow in the dark watch and various toys all now banned.

    Health and safety gone mad, you got a bigger dose of radiation flying.

    Now if it was in food then I’d understand (like in my grandparents day).

  3. Robert E. Phelan says:

    Aw, come on. This is just citizen science at its best. I imagine the Swedish police would have arrested Karl Benz, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright Brothers. And did they do anything about that mad man Alfred Nobel and his tinkering with explosives? Nooooo… selective enforcement, if you ask me.

  4. Green Sand says:

    Re Full disclosure

    Recommend that you don’t tell them you have access to an abandoned rackets court

  5. PaulH says:

    I hope the police don’t overreact when they find out Mother Nature makes her own reactors…

    “The Oklo Fossil Fission Reactors” – http://oklo.curtin.edu.au/

    Cool stuff, actually. :-)

  6. Sam says:

    Best blog post title ever!

  7. Mike M says:

    Ahhh shucks! They’re all sold out!

    Is this an urban legend or true? The story I heard a very long time ago goes something like: A well funded charity or whatever sent doctors and hospital equipment to the middle of some poor country in South or Central America to set up a clinic. The equipment including some nuclear medical device that contained a powdered radioactive substance. For whatever reason, (revolution? lack of funding? – I can’t recall) the staff left but the equipment stayed, (ransomed?), which was eventually stolen for scrap. The junk man pried open the lead lined container inside the machine, discovered the powder and then sold it to people in his village which contaminated the entire village and radio-poisoned everyone in it including him – to their deaths. The story included people putting the powder on their food because they were told that it came from a hospital and therefore had to have some sort of beneficial medical property. The US government was secretly allowed to move in to clean up the whole disaster and bury the victims at great expense.

  8. Dave Eaton says:

    I think it was a cool idea, if a little dumb to call in the feds. People need to experiment to understand the world in a visceral way, not just intellectual. I would never have been able to sit still through years of science and mathematics to get an education if I had not experienced first hand what I could make happen.

    At least one of the Farnsworth Fusor guys has used the neutrons produced to do activation experiments. And they produce lots of X-rays. They are dangerous. Nature is dangerous, but it is our birthright, in my opinion, to interrogate it. If someone has a couple of kilos of Pu, some intervention is likely necessary, but on a teeny scale, with a little care, lots of cool experiments can and should be done by amateurs, I think.

  9. perturbed says:

    I *wondered* where he’d got the Americium from…

  10. James Thomas says:

    The headlines in the news are both misleading and inflammatory sense he had nothing but smoke detectors (Am-241) and natural radioactive materials (pitchblende by the way has U-238, U-235, and the Radium decay chain)… and nothing produced nothing by his work. This was a case of over reaction by the Swedish authorities. If he had actually succeeded, he would be in a hospital with Acute Radiation Syndrome or Dead.

    Something similar happened in the US in 1994, see David Hahn “the Radioactive Boy Scout”

    Apparently the Swedish fellow was nowhere as successful as David… ^_^

  11. Bob Kutz says:

    When I was a kid, I used to take apart smoke detectors that were being replaced just to get to that little piece in the center. I started this after taking one apart and seeing the nuclear symbol and realizing what was in there. They looked like the end of a pencil eraser with a little piece of yellow metal crimped inside. Eventually I had a Crown Royal sack with about 5 or 6 of them. (I imagined at some point having that entire purple sack filled with these little pellets and building a nuclear something or other out of them). I kept it under my bed.

    I mentioned it to my 8th grade physics instructor one day. He thought that wasn’t a very good idea. He asked me about it a week later; I had put the bag in the garbage without mentioning it to anyone. He didn’t think that was too bright either, but was happy I had taken his advice to get it out from under my bed.

    Never occurred to me that I could use it for anything other than maybe a very limited heat source; maybe build a ‘perpetual motion machine’ to impress friends with.

    Anyway, why in the heck would anybody call the government to ask if it’s okay to build a breeder reactor in your kitchen? Might as well ask them if the thermite grenades you built in your garage are okay to ship through the mail. Or ‘does this nuclear warhead make me look fat?’ It guarantees their immediate and malevolent attention. Duh!

    Once you’ve committed to a sustained fission reaction, you know you’ve gone rogue. Why try to split hairs? What are you gonna say; “well, Joe down at the power plant said he thought it would be okay.” Yeah, the old “Joe said it was alright defense.” gets you out of dutch every time.

    Anyway, my $0.02.

    Interesting story though.

  12. Mike M says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goi%C3%A2nia_accident

    That must be it – the story I heard is basically true excepting some ancillary embellishments, twists and the number of dead.

  13. Gary says:

    Confirmation that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than get permission.

  14. Gary Swift says:

    I have an irradiated dime from the 1964 world’s fair. Mine is in the blue holder shown at the bottom of this page:

    http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/medalsmementoes/dimes.htm

    With a halflife of just a few seconds, I don’t think I’m going to run my IPod on it though.

    The fire alarm the story above is talking about is not a smoke alarm. The older emergency signs that stay lit even when the power goes out contain a radioactive battery to power the light. You aren’t supposed to throw them away in the trash.

  15. Douglas DC says:

    Now that explains the one-eyed gerbils in the next flat….
    That like to play the Banjo…

  16. Mac the Knife says:

    Bob Kutz says:
    August 4, 2011 at 11:22 am
    “Or does this nuclear warhead make me look fat?’ ”

    Now THAT is damn funny, Bob!!! Just about had my lunch milk squirting out my nose!

  17. Bill Sticker says:

    Aren’t there people doing high school / garden shed / kitchen worktop validations of the Bussard / Nebel Polywell model of fusion reactor?

    One Australian experimenter is claiming electron confinement on his home built device. Can he expect to be raided?

    Link here: http://prometheusfusionperfection.com/2011/08/02/sydney-experiment-we-have-electron-confinement/

  18. Science books in the 1950′s had regular articles on how to build your own x-ray machines. The following chapter was usually shorter and was instructions on how to build a lead vest for protection from what you made in chapter 1.

    I not sure there is any problem here. My local university has had a pot belly nuclear reactor running since the 1970′s in the basement of the pharmacy building. (a thorium reactor I believe)

    And your personal fusion reactor supposed to go on sale in October for about $3500 euros. You can read all about it here:

    http://ecatfusion.com/

    What is all the fuss about?
    Albert K.

  19. moliate says:

    Actually, just a few years ago a law forbidding you to even think about improving fission reactors was abolished in Sweden. That peculiar law was the result of an uneasy compromise between the two sides of the 1980 referendum on keeping or ending nuclear power (the outcome is usually referred to as the “third way” – just keep fission until we have those safe fusion reactors that would surely be available in the year 2000).

    But to sum this case up: the Swedish radiation authority did not find that the man had exposed others to danger or done anything illegal according to their measurements. They also tracked the way he had acquired the radioactive material and found nothing suspicious. The police officers on site took him in for questioning, but did not actually arrest him. I doubt that he will be charged with any crime from what I’ve read in swedish media.

  20. Slabadang says:

    Creative man!! :)

    You have to read this as well… and NZ rs has to be embarrased by this guy writing this article. I didnt think it was possible to concentrate so many lies and misrepresentations in one article.This is not an article its more a diagnosis on the writer. Read and gasp!!

    “Tellingly, so-called climate “sceptics” refuse to participate in scientific debates: by and large, they do not contribute to the peer-reviewed literature and they do not present their views at scientific conferences”

    There is much much more in this article by ” Stephan Lewanowski” Have great fun!! Give him a phone so he can “phone home”.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/science/news/article.cfm?c_id=82&objectid=10742945&ref=rss

  21. Gary Swift says:

    James Thomas says:
    August 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Something similar happened in the US in 1994, see David Hahn “the Radioactive Boy Scout”

    Apparently the Swedish fellow was nowhere as successful as David… ^_^

    Wow, Hahn was arrested again in 2007 for stealing emergency exit signs and treated for radiation poisoning with visible sores on his face in his mug shots. I can’t believe he was still trying. That’s crazy and probably a little sick. Tried to get into the nuclear program in the Navy too.

  22. Bob Kutz says:

    Oh, and a quick follow up; the ore may be sold out, but the ‘uranium doped’ glass beads are still available; mine should ship today;

    http://unitednuclear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_76&products_id=482

    Question; is it really legal to ship uranium doped glass beads through the mail?

    Is it really legal to buy uranium via the internet?

    Have I just been swindled out of $17.07?

    Are government agents on the way to my house to ask me a few questions?

    Just asking, stay tuned for the update.

    Perhaps Joe Wilson is being assigned to make the trip. The NYT op/ed will be title “what I didn’t find in Oskaloosa”.

    (That’s a bit of sarc/ there, for those of you in Rio Linda)

  23. oeman50 says:

    It takes 9 to 14 kilograms of Americium to make a critical mass. That’s lots and lots of smoke detectors at 0.28 micrograms per device, say about 40 billion, give or take a few.

  24. Tom T says:

    Gee I thought that a microwave cooks fast enough.

  25. Tom T says:

    The banning of mercury is what I fine strange. When I was a kid our science teacher put a bit of mercury in a dish on our desks and we could play with it with a stick. When my mother broke a thermometer, which she did at least twice that I remember, my brother and I would play with it, I think we even used our hands.

  26. Gary Hladik says:

    “I’m sure that in 1985 plutonium is available in every corner drugstore…” — Doc Brown in “Back to the Future”

  27. boodledug says:

    Whats for dinner honey?
    Fission Chips !

  28. WillR says:

    Hey! See the second kit in this article (from one of my favorite trade mags) — perfect for the DYI guy (as opposed to DIY)
    http://www.edn.com/blog/Anablog/4122…th_science.php

    Atomic Power for the masses! First blogger with a reactor to go live wins.

    DYI = “Do yourself in” as opposed to “DIY” or do-it-yourself!

  29. TRM says:

    http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1994/02/15

    Society doesn’t value hard work and imagination as much as they say they do.

  30. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:

    @PaulH says:
    August 4, 2011 at 10:51 am:

    CRS Reply Thanks for the Oklo link, Paul! Very cool! I knew about those natural reactors, but the link provides interesting details!

    I built a small cloud-chamber for a grade school science fair when I was about 11, it worked pretty good. We used a chunk of uranium ore as a radioactivity source. I guess I’m a dead man walking.

  31. Oh this is really health and safety gone mad. Which one of us can honestly say we have never started a chain reaction in the kitchen? We all do it at some time! I know I have, until she who must be obeyed objected to the amounts of lead I was using and the cats with hair falling all over the place. I must admit though, like most of us, I only ever used such experiments for peaceful purposes, though I was sorely tempted when Cardiff missed out on the play offs for the premiership. Can I recommend the “Windscale special” Meccano set if anyone is interested?

  32. Nuke says:

    Dave Eaton says:
    August 4, 2011 at 11:12 am
    I think it was a cool idea, if a little dumb to call in the feds. People need to experiment to understand the world in a visceral way, not just intellectual. I would never have been able to sit still through years of science and mathematics to get an education if I had not experienced first hand what I could make happen.

    At least one of the Farnsworth Fusor guys has used the neutrons produced to do activation experiments. And they produce lots of X-rays. They are dangerous. Nature is dangerous, but it is our birthright, in my opinion, to interrogate it. If someone has a couple of kilos of Pu, some intervention is likely necessary, but on a teeny scale, with a little care, lots of cool experiments can and should be done by amateurs, I think.

    Early last century, radioactivity was a big selling point for household and personal products:

    http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/quackcures/quackcures.htm

    http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/16/books/you-could-buy-radium-in-the-drugstore.html

  33. Neo says:

    Years ago, my brother found an ad in the Philadelphia Bulletin:
    Wanted: Nuclear Weapons Engineer

    After going through the then thick classified, we expect it to read “Hobby Experience a plus

  34. Disko Troop says:

    This may not be the place to ask but….The USS Nimitz has two A4W reactors of about 104 mws each. Portable….Obviously well shielded as 4000 people live within 1000 feet of them. Why do we not install this type of reactor to generate electricity in local high demand areas such as industrial estates.. Is it costs? or what. Or am I being an idiot for even asking such a question?

  35. Ulrich Elkmann says:

    Well – this is Sweden, which has just reversed its anti-nuclear stance. Can you imagine what would have happened if that guy had tried this in Germany?

  36. Matthew says:

    @Mike M

    I’m fairly sure it’s an urban legend. The half-life of medical isotopes tends to be fairly short – I doubt there would be much left by the time anyone went through the scrap.

  37. Ed Waage says:

    Maybe he needs to try to build a cold fusion reactor instead. Some scientists claimed to have built such a reactor several years ago, but it was later shown to be a false claim. No one was arrested for trying, however.

  38. Chris says:

    Overinflated media story. Cracking open “A” smoke detector is a long step away from “reactor”

  39. Ric Werme says:

    I posted this in a FaceBook reply last night. Shoulda thought it belonged here too.

    See http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/radscout.html – it has an update with the 2007 arrest and a very disturbing photo of Hahn. Like disturbing enough so that even I am disinclined to make the obvious jokes.

  40. Ric Werme says:

    One thing my father didn’t “take with him” was a sample of Uranium oxide. It’s powdered, so I’ve never opened it. He also had a small piece of silver wave guide and tungsten turnings. I added few things of my own, silicon wafers and mercury and labeled the box “Heirloom chemicals.” Sorry Hannah.

    I’ll add my uranium glass marbles (thank you United Nuclear) before I kick the bucket.

    Nowhere near as impressive as Theodore Gray’s http://periodictable.com/ – He has a couple calendars out, I bought a 2012 Calendar at Borders a week or two ago.

    BTW, readers of this thread will like a link I preserved on my Guide to WUWT:

    # 2011 Apr 29: Friday Funny – science safety run amok
    This started out as a rant about “a chemistry kit with no chemicals.” Disappointing, despicable, disheartening to be sure, but certainly not worthy of being listed here.

    However, WUWT Nation is full of people who’ve learned chemistry the fun way, from 1960′s chemical sets to making their own rocket fuel. They (we!) hijacked the thread to reminisce about all the chemistry society (and Homeland Security) frown upon today. Enjoy! BTW, the link goes to the first comment, if you want to read about depressing chemistry sets, you’ll have to scroll up or edit the URL.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/29/friday-funny-science-safety-run-amok/#comment-650884

  41. DCC says:

    @Robert E. Phelan: The EPA has indeed shut down Edison’s lab in Menlo Park. Used to be a tourist site. No more.

  42. philincalifornia says:

    Bob Kutz says:
    August 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm
    Is it really legal to buy uranium via the internet?
    ===================

    Buy 10 Forty-Foot Containers per Month of this stuff, a big old evaporation system and a centrifuge and you can give Ahmadinejad the finger in no time:

    http://www.alibaba.com/product-free/108189561/Mineral_Water.html

    I think it’s probably from Caxambu, up in the mountains between Sao Paulo and Rio, where I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference once:

    http://en.db-city.com/Brazil/Minas_Gerais/Caxambu

    In the main square, there’s a bubbling spring coming up from the bowels of the earth and, chained to the structure are Geiger counters, so you know you’re getting the real deal when you drink it.

  43. Jer0me says:

    I have been told that the average garden is richer in uranium than the average gold mine is in gold. That makes most of us (with gardens) a target….

  44. Ken S says:

    “Mike M says:
    August 4, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Ahhh shucks! They’re all sold out!

    Is this an urban legend or true? The story I heard a very long time ago goes something like: A well funded charity or whatever sent doctors and hospital equipment to the middle of some poor country in South or Central America to set up a clinic. The equipment including some nuclear medical device that contained a powdered radioactive substance. For whatever reason, (revolution? lack of funding? – I can’t recall) the staff left but the equipment stayed, (ransomed?), which was eventually stolen for scrap. The junk man pried open the lead lined container inside the machine, discovered the powder and then sold it to people in his village which contaminated the entire village and radio-poisoned everyone in it including him – to their deaths. The story included people putting the powder on their food because they were told that it came from a hospital and therefore had to have some sort of beneficial medical property. The US government was secretly allowed to move in to clean up the whole disaster and bury the victims at great expense.”
    ———————————————————————————————

    Don’t know anything about that, however back in 1984 just across the border in Juarez Mexico which is just a few miles from my home here in El Paso, we had a similar “accident”.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,955289,00.html

    The US government flew a chopper back and forth in a grid searching pattern across El Paso and I think also Juarez attempting to locate any addition material. From what I remember the instruments used were capable of detecting a BB sized piece on the ground while flying above the city.

    The Border Patrol has check stations on all routes out of this area. I was recently told that if you have certain medical tests done in El Paso that you need to carry a paper provided by the hospital should you drive by one of the check points. This documentation is to be shown because the radioactive isotopes used will set off their detection equipment.

  45. Curiousgeorge says:

    I have a bunch of Potassium 40 in my kitchen. It’s mostly yellow on the outside and white on the inside and about 8″ long and 2″ dia. tapering to pointy ends.

  46. 1DandyTroll says:

    To put this in historic reference, you cannot order a bunch of vital part for airplanes in Sweden neither these days, now why did the airplanes become such a vital part of society? To present day reference in Sweden it would be illegal to do what them guys did in Denmark, try to launch home built rockets into space from open sea because someone might get hurt.

    In EU, Sweden is the only country that is enough an extreme socialist state that allows the government authorities to hold people without charge and therefor bail for over a year, no terrorist stamp on forehead needed.

    Sweden is the de facto big digital ear of EU due to the amount of fibers owned by Sweden that’re leaving EU combined with the highest amount of authorities being allowed to listen in to everything.

    Sweden is currently the sole owner of the largest B I G E N E R G Y company in EU, completely state owned that owns everything from german brown coal and crappy nuclear to retarded british wind power plants.

    Sweden, the only country in the world who’s government state is only allowed to sell alcohol if they tell you you will die drinking the goodies it sells.

    Sweden, the only country in EU who allow psych patients to own .50 calibre guns and decide for themselves if they’re ok to drive while heavily intoxicated on legal prescription medication…

  47. ian middleton says:

    I’ve always had a fascination with radioactive materials ever since a kid. I used to buy up old watches from junk shops and scrape the radium salts of the dials. Built my own geiger counter at 16. Now I’m the pround owner of 57 items of uranium glass ornaments and at least 500 uranium glass marbles.. It’s the UV black lights I used to display them that is more of a health hazzard, I think.

  48. ZT says:

    Seems like the right sort of person to interface with the TSA.

  49. Kevin W. Baugh says:

    FYI – Actual thermonuclear fusion being performed by “amateur” enthusiasts at home:
    http://www.fusor.net
    For those who are saddened by the lack of “science” in Climate Science, these guys are proof that all is not (yet) lost.

  50. Gary Mount says:

    Here is an article and video by Microsoft.
    “Carl Greninger works in Microsoft IT Operations as a PM. Carl is also the closest I’ve met to a real life “Doc Brown”. He even has his own version of a Mr. Fusion, except his really works. Carl spent about a year along with a group of 13-17 year old students building his own nuclear reactor. Precisely, what they’ve built is called a Farnsworth Fusor. Carl and his team are listed as being in “The Neutron Club”, which means they have built an operating neutron producing fusion system, with two of the 13 year old members on his team being listed as “Youngest Fusioneer”.

    Carl talks to us about his Fusor, what drove him to build it, and what he hopes to accomplish with it.”
    http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Show-Us-Your-Tech/Show-Us-Your-Tech-Nuclear-Edition

  51. J. Felton says:

    Since he was apparently released without being charged, did the authorities remove his equipment as well?

    And I guess most EU authorities arent impressed by people trying to get around the fact that anyone in Europe pays almost 5 times more for energy then anywhere else.

  52. nutso fasst says:

    A few decades ago, an independent researcher developed an easily constructed and super efficient electricity generator that utilized inexpensive frijoleum. Needless to say, all news of this system was squelched by the corporate powers, and the original is now housed in a very secure warehouse in the Nevada desert, sitting on a shelf next to a 100 mpg carburetor.

  53. Ric Werme says:

    DCC says:
    August 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    The EPA has indeed shut down Edison’s lab in Menlo Park. Used to be a tourist site. No more.

    That lab was reconstructed at Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Michigan. It was moved there in the 1920s. Recreated is the better term http://www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/edison/#comes says “When Ford and Edison went to New Jersey to recover the buildings they found that most of them had been removed or had collapsed. Ford had his staff reconstruct the Menlo Park buildings from photographs and a few surviving original materials.”

    Thinking you might have meant Edison’s West Orange site, I checked http://www.nps.gov/edis/planyourvisit/hours.htm and it says it’s open Wednesday – Sunday.

  54. Robert of Texas says:

    Eek… I may have to be more careful about saying “I nuked the food”, some kind of SWAT team may show up in my house as I am using the microwave… LOL

  55. DJ says:

    I made a neutron burrito once…..killed everyone within 20ft, but didn’t hurt my pants.

    Next project is a brazil nut pit, wrapped in a spherical banana shell. Mentos and diet Coke will be the detonation material.

    Seriously though, I know a 15yr old kid who has built a successful Farnsworth fusor, and created neutrons. For real.

  56. dwright says:

    @Mike M—-
    If it’s appeared on the TV show CSI then there’s a good chance it is an urban legend. Just IMHO

  57. Logan in AZ says:

    And, besides, a little radiation is good for you –
    http://www.radpro.com/641luckey.pdf
    Prof. Luckey is the dean of radiation hormesis, and this brief 20 page overview is only a small dose of the extensive literature available.

  58. Need radioactive material? Down wind from Hanford, or a nuclear bomb test site or two, or wonder about a certain area of Japan for some of the fresher material. Some half lifes are longer than others. Use a centrifuge for separation of lighter and heavier “stuff.” Maybe go to Iraq and pick up some of those A10 spent Uranium bullets laying about the desert. I hear they get a good price.

    All joking aside, recall back in the ’70′s when we were all supposedly going to have our own nuclear plant to power our homes? Can’t do that, the power, coal and oil companies would loose their grip on controlling home energy. Damn…I was so excited about the prospect of some being a nuclear guy.

  59. Laurie says:

    I had a nuclear stress test today. They injected the material, took pictures of my heart, tried to kill me on the treadmill and then injected some more. They then took the “after” pictures. The doctor of internal medicine said I would glow in the dark for 3 days. Now that it’s dark, I’m going to the master bath with the big mirror, stripping down and turning off the lights to check it out. Won’t my husband be surprised!

  60. Gary Hladik says:

    Laurie says (August 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm): “The doctor of internal medicine said I would glow in the dark for 3 days.”

    I’ve heard of women having a “glow”, but this is ridiculous!

  61. Leg says:

    @ ian middleton: August 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm
    Scraping Radium off of dials is not a great idea. Radium in this chemical form is easily ingested and absorbed by the body. Because it is analogous to calcium, it tends to concentrate in the bone and it is very slow to leave the body. The other radioactive items that you own have near zero risk. As I’ve seen your comments before, I have no doubt you have a reasonable understanding of things radioactive, I just don’t want other folks to think its okay to scrape radium off of dials. Folks, always look at the chemical form before messing with radiactive materials. If the chemical or physical form is not easily ingested or absorbed by the body, then it is likely to be relatively safe to handle it. It is why folks who handle uranium pellets and rods in the production of reactor fuels need very little protection: the uranium is in a solid form, hence little chance of airborne particles; and uranium is not readily absorbed by the body in this chemical form.
    @ Gary Swift: August 4, 2011 at 11:59 am
    Yes, Hawn is a little bit odd, and he also had a bad case of acne. The spots on his face are not the result of radiation exposure. Should you ever read the book “The Radioactive Boy Scout”, take it with a big grain of salt (preferably KCl), because the author is obviously anti-nuclear and the book is rife with technical errors and full of anti-nuclear hyperbole.

  62. Terry W says:

    Bob Kutz: Priceless:

    Anyway, why in the heck would anybody call the government to ask if it’s okay to build a breeder reactor in your kitchen? Might as well ask them if the thermite grenades you built in your garage are okay to ship through the mail. Or ‘does this nuclear warhead make me look fat?’ It guarantees their immediate and malevolent attention. Duh!

    Made my day.

  63. TonyG says:

    WillR says:
    Sorry about the link… Try this for the DYI crowd…
    http://www.edn.com/blog/Anablog/41223-When_kids_really_had_fun_with_science.php

    I used to have “The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments”. Almost impossible to find now, but I’ve got it in PDF & have printed a hardcopy. My kids are taking their turn with it.

  64. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Dang, there goes the experiments in food preservation by home-brewed un-powered irradiation by naturally-radioactive sources. What other methods can so retain the nutrition and taste of fresh foods, that don’t require undue amounts of energy likely derived from fossil fuels?

    The Greens don’t want irradiated food, although there are many hungry people in the world who would benefit from nutritious fresh food that doesn’t require refrigeration for storage. The Greens don’t want genetically modified food, although there are many hungry people in the world who would appreciate the increases in yields. The Greens don’t want the use of fossil fuels, although it takes so much energy for modern food preservation I doubt renewables could ever supply it along with the rest of the energy for “modern civilization.” While being so concerned about “green and healthy foods,” the Greens don’t seem too concerned about those most in need of good food so they can simply be healthy.

  65. Spector says:

    I would assume that it would be against the law in this county (USA) to build or attempt to build a nuclear device, explosive or non-explosive, when said device can be used to increase the number of radioactive nuclei on this planet, unless officially licensed to do so. It may also be illegal to publish or attempt to publish the design of a functional nuclear device depending on the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  66. Gary Swift says:

    “@ Gary Swift: August 4, 2011 at 11:59 am
    Yes, Hawn is a little bit odd, and he also had a bad case of acne. The spots on his face are not the result of radiation exposure. Should you ever read the book “The Radioactive Boy Scout”, take it with a big grain of salt (preferably KCl), because the author is obviously anti-nuclear and the book is rife with technical errors and full of anti-nuclear hyperbole”

    Thanks for the heads-up. Note to self: never trust wiki.

  67. Eddie says:

    Reminds me of a book that I read a few years ago…The Radioactive Boyscout. The kid pretty much did the same thing but with more dangerous consequences.

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